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Data scientist Chris Wells on why a center of excellence is crucial to intelligent document processing success

By: Christopher M. Wells, Ph. D.
February 16, 2022 | Intelligent Document Processing, Unstructured Data

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An issue that many companies face as they get deeper into intelligent document processing technology is how best to build and roll out an automation strategy company wide. From our experience, the clients who fare best are those that create an automation center of excellence (COE).

Intelligent document processing is a crucial underpinning of the digital transformation efforts that most companies are embracing. An automation COE brings the strategy and structure that IDP warrants in order to fulfill its role in those over-arching digital transformation plans.

The reasons why companies should build a COE are many.

Promoting process automation scalability

Let’s start with a large enterprise with a number of small teams each working on process automation projects. Each team winds up selecting a tool that’s a good fit for its particular use case: one picks a robotic process automation tool, another a template-based solution, a third an IDP platform and a fourth a different IDP offering.

Now the company has four automation solutions that are each great fits for a single use case. But those solutions won’t necessarily scale to take on additional use cases outside the original one. Additionally, all the time employees spend learning how to use one tool doesn’t translate to the others; the learning curve starts all over again. Finally, the tools likely don’t talk to one another and may be difficult to integrate, should you want to feed output from the RPA platform to one of the IDP solutions, for example.

A COE can help a company avoid such a fate. One of its roles is to examine potential use cases within the company and select a tool that can handle all of them. That helps foster scalability in automation efforts, as everyone gains experience with the same tool that can then be shared far and wide. (Read our earlier post to learn how the ability to address a variety of use cases was key in Cushman & Wakefield’s automation tool selection process.)

Socializing automation lessons

Similarly, a COE can help ensure that lessons learned, and automation routines developed, can be shared among different groups. Perhaps one line of business wants to automate a process that involves a common enterprise application, such as an ERP or CRM tool. When another LOB wants to automate a process involving those same applications, the COE will be able to apply lessons learned – and perhaps actual code and objects – from that first project.

Those lessons learned will also apply in how models are created. It’s important, for example, to build in features such as recoverability. If a given component in an automation routine fails to deliver a result as quickly as expected, the model should be able to recover by periodically trying to repeat that step rather than chalking it up to an exception, or failure. Each individual LOB will only learn such lessons the hard way; a COE can ensure such capabilities are built in from day one.

Providing automation education

COEs can also educate LOBs on how to train intelligent automation models, and the importance of quality data in that effort. It takes a good deal of data to train a model to perform with a high degree of accuracy, especially when the process involves unstructured data. The COE can guide LOBs, ensuring they use actual documents that reflect those involved in the process they want to automate and guiding them on how best to label those documents.

Your chosen IDP platform will also play a significant role in how easy or difficult it is to label documents and build models. That’s why we love it when COEs have bake-offs between the Indico Unstructured Data Platform and other process automation tools. They invariably find our intuitive user interface makes it easy to label documents and create models that work with 95% accuracy. And they’re delighted to find out it’s the employees who are actually performing the process in question who create the models (so-called citizen developers); no data scientists or even IT staffers are required.

To learn more about the importance of COEs and what it takes to build one, check out our webinar with an automation process expert from Cognizant and an end user with more than 20 years of experience. You can also learn more about the Indico Unstructured Data Platform from our interactive demo or by scheduling a live demo. If you want to host your own bake-off, just register for a free trial. We’ll take on all comers.


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